July 13, 2011

A potential down side to ubiquitous 3D printing

Filed under: Humour, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 16:02

Original at http://xkcd.com/924/

Expanding government-provided flood insurance?

Filed under: Economics, Environment, Government, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:42

It has always amazed me that the US government is the primary insurer for flood damage, but the idea of putting the few remaining private insurace companies out of business is insane:

The House of Representatives is scheduled this week, as early as today, to consider an extension and “reform” of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the NFIP has been about $18 billion in the hole. And this is from a program that only collects around $2 billion a year in premiums, which barely covers losses and expenses in a normal year. So make no mistake, the NFIP is still on course to cost the taxpayer billions more in the future.

Even before Katrina, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the NFIP was receiving a subsidy of close to a billion dollars a year. Under CBO’s optimistic projections, the House’s reform bill would increase NFIP revenues by about $4 billion over the next ten years, making only a small dent in the program’s current deficit.

If private insurers aren’t willing to offer insurance to people and businesses located on flood plains, isn’t that a strong indication that building a house or a plant on that location is a bad idea? Why should people who chose not to locate in risky locations be forced to subsidize the risk-taking of those who do?

A bit more on the Caledonia settlement

Filed under: Cancon, Government, Law, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:58

The National Post looks at the shameful way the Ontario government has acted through the confrontation in Caledonia:

This week’s settlement of a class-action lawsuit fits right in with the government’s modus operandi. Four years after the suit was filed, Mr. McGuinty’s Liberals will pay a group of residents and business owners $20-million in recompense for the disruption that was caused when the Ontario Provincial Police elected to ignore the rampant violence and lawbreaking that accompanied the aboriginals’ illegal seizure of land. The money will be divided among about 800 claimants, according to a formula related to their proximity to the occupied territory and exposure to acts of violence. As usual, the province has done its best to gag any complaints by insisting that details of the agreement remain confidential.

The class-action suit specified four instances at the height of the dispute in which roads were closed, court injunctions were violated and a hydro-electric transformer was burned. But those were just a sampling of the many episodes in which police, acting under clear instruction, blatantly ignored the aboriginals’ contempt for the law. Families were terrorized, threatened, driven from their homes or forced to show aboriginal “passports” to gain access to their own neighbourhoods. It was like a scene from some balkanized tin-pot regime, in other words — local residents might be inclined to call it the Banana Republic of Ontario.

Donna Reid, a Caledonia resident who has been among the most critical of the government, dismissed the settlement as “hush money” by a Liberal administration that is facing re-election and wants the issue to go away. The amount received by most residents will do little to offset five years worth of disruption that has embittered relations and turned part of the town into a no-go area.

Calling the PM “a limp-wristed, tofu-eating, faux-Tory abomination”

Filed under: Britain, Media, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:28

Oddly enough, he’s not talking about Stephen “Liberal-lite” Harper:

Today David Cameron finds himself in the “awkward” position of having to back a Labour motion calling for Murdoch’s News Corporation to drop its bid for BSKyB. Of course in the current climate of almost Death-of-Diana outrage (so brilliantly orchestrated by the BBC and the Guardian), there is probably not much wriggle room for doing otherwise. But in fact it all suits him very nicely for the very last thing our pathologically Heathite prime minister really wants is for the BSkyB to go through.

Why? Because the purpose of Murdoch’s BSkyB bid is essentially so that he can set up a UK version of America’s most popular news channel Fox News. Fox News acts as the conscience of the right in the US: it’s one of the things which made the Tea Party possible. A British version would achieve the same over here, destroying the crushing hegemony enjoyed by the BBC, restoring a balance to the political debate in Britain which for decades has been so sorely lacking – whatever the BBC’s supposed charter to commitment to fairness and balance might pretend.

[. . .]

If the BSkyB deal ever goes through, Cameron will no longer have that option available. Worse still, he will have a new TV news channel explaining to viewers every day of the week what a limp-wristed, tofu-eating, faux-Tory abomination their supposedly Conservative prime minister really is.

I don’t think he wants that. Do you?

Anonymous decides they’re against Ethical Oil

Filed under: Cancon, Environment, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:13

I guess all the popular targets have already been hit, so the rumour is that Anonymous is going to be going after companies working in the oilsands:

In related news, Anonymous said it planned to attack oil firms and banks supporting the controversial extraction of oil from sand in Alberta, Canada. Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Canadian Oil Sands, Imperial Oil, and the Royal Bank of Scotland have been put on notice that they are likely to be targeted in Anonymous’ latest operation, dubbed Project Tarmageddon.

Anonymous began with attacks on the Church of Scientology in early 2008 before it made headline news last year with attacks on financial service firms that blocked donation to WikiLeaks following the release of controversial US diplomatic cables. Another long-running campaign has targeted entertainment industry firms that hassled file sharers or console modders, most notably Sony.

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